Malnutrition impacts child health in the long run. Because it’s a direct cause of development delay and an indicator of poverty and inequalities, malnutrition can lead to mental and physical disabilities which have long term implications on child and adult health.
Malnutrition is a multicausal problem, involving several issues such as access to food, health care, water and sanitation, education, climate change, gender inequalities, etc. Whereas the large majority of programmes fighting undernutrition take place in crisis and emergency situations, malnutrition exists primarily in stable contexts.
Undernutrition weakens the immune system, enhances infection risks, and worsens the impacts of communicable diseases, such as HIV/Aidsand tuberculosis. There is consensus in the development field about the need to integrate proven and effective nutrition interventions into health systems, strategies, and budgets in all countries.
“Recognizing that an acceleration of global action is needed to address the pervasive and corrosive problem of the double burden of malnutrition” (undernutrition and obesity), the World Health Assembly adopted in 2012 an action plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition setting a set of six global nutrition targets to be achieved by 2025.
- Malnutrition is the cause of 45% of deaths in children under five, making it the leading cause of child mortality worldwide
- In July 2020, UNICEF and the World Food Programme warned that due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, an additional 6.7 million children would be affected by wasting by the end of 2020.
- In 2016, Only 0,4% of ODA was allocated to the nutrition sector. Only 1,4% of needs are covered by this amount.
“« It is difficult to imagine greater injustice than that which deprives the child, in the womb of his mother and from an early age, of the ability to fully develop his talents throughout his life »”Anthony Lake, UNICEF General Director
Focus : Covid19 impacts on global undernutrition
The pandemic has disrupted food supply chains and nutrition services, and left food prices are soaring. If nothing is done to address this, 6.7 million additional children under 5 years old will suffer from malnutrition in 2020, an increase that will cause 10,000 additional deaths per month. 80% of the children at greatest risk live in sub saharan Africa and South-East Asia.
Nutrition is a neglected element of development financing and programming. We are fighting for:
- Increase in funding available to prevent and treat malnutrition in high-prevalence countries through better budgetary allocation and increased resources from the EU.
- the EU to make the principle of “leave no one behind” central to their nutrition work by adopting a metric to measure SDG10’s requirement for faster than average progress for those who are most vulnerable.
- The EU to better connect their short and long-term strategies by integrating approaches which respond to both chronic and acute malnutrition issues.
- The EU to set a target for reducing acute malnutrition in addition to its action against chronic malnutrition.
- The EU to investigate and better understand the direct and indirect risks the COVID-19 pandemic poses to progress made on the fight against malnutrition, and to incorporate these findings into their COVID global response by increasing allocations for both nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific programmes.
- The EU to incorporate a section on nutrition into the EU-Africa partnership, with an emphasis on health systems as the primary delivery method for interventions to fight all forms of malnutrition.